Scotland’s pledge to cut emissions by 75% by 2030 ‘no longer credible’ | Green politics

Scotland’s pledge to cut its climate emissions by 75% by 2030 is “no longer credible” and cannot be met, the UK’s climate watchdog has said.

In a damning report submitted to the Scottish parliament, the UK Climate Change Committee (CCC) accused the Scottish government of repeatedly failing to live up to its legally binding targets.

Despite missing the annual emissions reductions required by law in eight of the last 12 years, ministers still have no meaningful plans for hitting that target after failing to produce the climate change strategy due last year, the CCC said.

Its action and policies “continue to fall far short” of what was needed. Most sectors, such as housing, transport and farming, remained so far behind their interim targets “the acceleration required [to] meet the 2030 target is now beyond what is credible”.

In response to the committee’s conclusions, Oxfam warned the Scottish government’s credibility was “now firmly on the line” and Friends of the Earth Scotland accused ministers of “an embarrassing and abject failure”.

Mike Robinson, the chair of the civic society umbrella group Stop Climate Chaos, said: “After declaring a climate emergency, the Scottish government has failed to deliver anything close to an emergency response, and must now redouble efforts.

“While every party in the Scottish parliament carries some blame, the Scottish government has lost its position as a climate leader and we would like to see the first minister make an emergency statement to parliament to set out his response.”

The CCC’s criticisms have been growing in intensity for some years. In the Scottish government, the Scottish National party shares power with the Scottish Greens after signing a cooperation agreement in 2021 that prioritised action on climate. Humza Yousaf, who succeeded Nicola Sturgeon as first minister and as SNP leader, has put less emphasis on climate action, despite its significance in the deal with the Greens.

With the SNP facing significant losses in the next general election, he has endorsed the oil industry’s position that heavier taxes to fund a transition to clean energy are unjustified, cut funding for forestry and watered down proposals to switch farming subsidies towards nature recovery.

In its annual progress report to Holyrood, the CCC found:

Scotland would need to cut emissions across housing, transport, farming and waste by ninefold in the next six years to meet its 2030 target.

Its tree-planting, peatland restoration, heat pump installation, recycling and electric van rates are “significantly” off track.

On transport alone, the government had to achieve a fourfold increase in its annual reductions to hit the 2030 target.

It has no strategy to decarbonise aviation, and has failed to use the powers to set higher air departure taxes given to Holyrood in 2016.

In one of the few policy areas it applauded, the CCC said the government’s “bold” heat in buildings bill could become a template for the rest of the UK if it was implemented as planned.

As well as banning gas and oil-fired heating by 2045, the bill will mandate minimum energy efficiency standards for private and rented homes and require lower carbon heating to be installed when a house is sold.

Màiri McAllan, the Scottish net zero secretary, implied the Scottish government had effectively dropped its 2030 target. She said the CCC had long been clear that hitting that target “will be extremely challenging, and may not be feasible”.

However, she said: “We remain fully committed to meeting our target of net zero emissions by 2045. We are under no illusion that the hardest part of this journey is ahead of us.”

Scottish ministers had developed proposals to cut car usage by 20% by 2030 and for decarbonising buildings, but she blamed the UK government for the delays to Scotland’s climate change plan.

Ministers in London had “reneged on their net zero commitments, and rolled back on policies already announced and accounted for”, as well as cutting capital funding for Scotland needed to deliver new infrastructure.

“We will now carefully consider the report’s recommendations and our next steps – including legislative options – before providing a formal response,” McAllan said.

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